Saris Used to Filter Water Prevent Disease

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 20 (UPI) — Women in Bangladesh who wear saris are literally wearing the answer to better health for themselves and their families, U.S. researchers said.

One of the researchers, Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland in College Park, said women who use a sari to filter household water protect their households from cholera — and even protect neighbors who don’t filter their water.

In 2003, Colwell and colleagues showed that teaching village women to filter water through folded cotton sari cloth reduced the incidence of cholera by 48 percent.

The follow-up study conducted five years later showed 31 percent of the village women continued to filter water for their households, with both an expected and an unexpected benefit,” Colwell said in a statement.

More than 7,000 village women in Bangladesh were selected from the same population used in the previous study. Five years later, 31 percent continued to filter their water. Twenty-six percent of the control group, women not instructed to get any training in the first study, now filter their water.

In addition, households that did not filter their water with saris, but were located where water filtration was regularly practiced by others also had a lower incidence of cholera, Colwell says.

The findings are published in the inaugural issue of mBio, an online, open-access journal.

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